HOUSTON – Feb. 3, 2021 – Even without the large crowds usually gathered to cheer on the senior athletes taking part in National Signing Day, this year’s events at Spring, Westfield and Dekaney high schools were still a reminder of students’ talent, hard work and dedication. In front of smaller, socially distanced audiences of family members and coaches, 24 Spring ISD student athletes put pen to paper, signing letters of intent to attend their schools of choice and participate in collegiate athletic programs.
Spring High School
At Spring High School, a total of 10 student athletes signed letters to commit to various athletics. Trent Miller, athletic coordinator and Spring High’s football head coach, hosted the ceremony and spoke on the importance of this year’s event.
“This is such a big deal for these kids,” said Miller after the school’s early morning ceremony. “Obviously, it’s a difficult year for all of these athletes and everyone involved. Just for them to be able to come up here today and sign their letters of intent speaks volumes of their work ethic and commitment that they have put in their entire lives.”
Jayda Williams, a Spring High School senior and softball player who will attend Grambling State University in Louisiana after graduation, admitted that it had been tough at times this past year, but said she was grateful for the opportunity to grow as an athlete.
“It was a lot of work, and of course, COVID doesn’t help,” Williams said, “but you still have to push through those obstacles, and it shows what type of player you are, on and off the field.”
Spring High School students signing letters of intent on National Signing Day included five football players: Vincent Bass, Navarro College; Aldyn Bradley, Kilgore College; Calvin Broussard, MidAmerica Nazarene University; Ja’Mori Gardner, Concordia University, Nebraska; and Donovan Jones, New Mexico Military Institute.
In addition, three students signed to play softball: Jayla Park, McLennan Community College; Jayda Williams, Grambling State University; and Kaylin Jackson, University of Texas at El Paso.
Also representing Spring High School were girls basketball player Brandi Dunn, headed to Highland Community College, and track athlete Ma’kayla Flakes, who signed to attend Nicholls State University.
Westfield High School
At Westfield High School, five varsity football players and their families gathered in the school’s performing arts center to mark the occasion, which parents said had been hard-won after a difficult season of stops and starts, with several quarantines and cancelled games. Carmen Rapé, whose son Kayden Craig signed to attend Navarro College following graduation, said parents were proud of the resilience that has brought students through the year.
“As parents, we’re very proud and excited,” Rapé said. “Coach Meekins and all the coaches have done a really good job getting these boys ready, not just for football but for life in general. It’s always been about team, about being better beyond just football, and they’ve learned a lot of commitment, a lot of perseverance. And for that I’m eternally grateful, for those lifelong lessons.”
Another proud Westfield parent, Sherwin Johnson, looked on as his son, Seth Johnson, signed to play next year at Lamar University, the same school his father attended and played for. The elder Johnson, a retired Houston Police Department officer who now teaches criminal justice at Dekaney High School, said he was happy to pass on the Lamar legacy, and excited for his son’s future.
“Well, of course I’m proud as a father, with him following my footsteps,” Johnson said. “I loved it when I was there, and I know he’s going to get a good education at Lamar as well.”
For Seth Johnson, the move to Lamar after graduation will be like a move to a second home, one he’s become very familiar with over the years.
“I’ve been going there since I was born,” Johnson said after the signing ceremony. “My dad played there, so I grew up kind of watching them all my life.”
Westfield Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Matt Meekins offered special thanks to parents, his fellow coaches, and others who had worked to help make the students’ dreams a reality.
“I just know they all had a great support system along the way with their teachers, mentors, coaches, administrators, parents and the community,” Meekins said of the group, “so we just look forward to seeing these guys be successful the next four years and the next 44 years!”
Westfield had a total of five students sign letters to play football: Kayden Craig, Navarro College; Ashton Harris, Navarro College; Seth Johnson, Lamar University; Sedrick Lewis, Trinity Valley Community College; and Jaden Perkins, Navarro College.
Dekaney High School
At Dekaney High School’s ceremony, a small audience of family members and supporters came together in the school’s gymnasium to celebrate nine students who all committed to play collegiate football. Head coach Anthony Williams read personal letters written to each student expressing his gratitude for their hard work and dedication.
“Usually on this day, kids are always thanking coaches and family members, but I want to take the time today to say thank you,” Williams told his players. “Thank you for building a bridge for our younger players, as well as leaving a legacy that will be hard to compete with.”
Senior Elroyal Morris III says he plans on staying closer to home after committing to play football at Rice University.
“I started playing both baseball and football when I was younger and decided to stick with football when I started 9th grade,” said Morris. “I’m so glad I did because I loved playing at Dekaney. When I visited Rice’s campus and met the coaches, recruiters and players, they treated me like family, and I knew it was the place for me.”
Var’Keys Gumms, a tight end at Dekaney who signed a letter of intent to play at the University of North Texas, says he is ready for life after high school.
“I’m grateful to the coaches and my team for everything they’ve done for me,” said Gumms. “I’m excited to start the next chapter in my life. I chose UNT because they supported me the most and it felt like home.”
Gumms’ father Levar Green thanked the staff and coaches at Dekaney as well, stating that National Signing Day means a lot to his family knowing where they came from and where they are today.
“It’s a big monument in our life,” said Green. “From the moment my son stepped foot in Texas from New Orleans, there’s been a 180 degree change. I’m proud of him for the change that he’s made and the man he has become. I’m grateful to this school and coaching staff for helping him along the way.”
Dekaney had a total of nine students sign letters to play football: Dylan Early, New Mexico State University; Kevon Garcia, University of Arizona; Var’Keys Gumms, University of North Texas; Ronnie McNeal, Midwestern State University; Jared Manos, Stephen F. Austin State University; Elroyal Morris III, Rice University; Battist Pearson, Angelo State University; Justin Rogers, Navarro College; and Daelyn Williams, Lamar University.